Eiders at Jenny Brown’s

Sharp’s Lot – Hollins Lane – Fleagarth Wood – Jenny Brown’s Point – Jack Scout – The Lots – The Cove.

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Warton Crag, Quicksand Pool and a huge washed-up, rust-stained timber.

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Early Purple Orchid.

Another evening stroll, very pleasant in itself, but made lustrous by an unexpected encounter. As I approached Jenny Brown’s Point I spotted a duck on the far side of Quicksand Pool. Even when seen out of the corner of my eye, something struck me about it and so I used the camera’s telephoto to find out whether or not I was really looking at a male Eider or merely another Shelduck…

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A male Eider!

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In amongst the trees at the southern end of Jack Scout I spent a while trying to photograph songsters – a Blackbird, a Robin and an elusive Chiff-chaff.

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Because the tide was well in, I decided to follow the coast rather than the path which runs along the wall where butterflies are more often to be seen. I’m pleased that I did.

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Another male Eider!

Of course, we’ve usually seen Eiders when we’ve been to Piel Island and I also spotted one last time we were at Roa Island, but I’ve never seen their courtship display before.

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A group of seven ducks were drifting on the tide and the males were throwing their heads back along their backs and cooing. It’s a very odd sound. (Better pictures, and a  fuller description here.)

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There was a male Merganser in with the Eiders for a while, not sure what he was up to.

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Black-backed Gull flying across the sun’s glitter path.

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More ‘Long Purples’.

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Sunset from the Lots.

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Eiders at Jenny Brown’s

The Late Show

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When I returned from my stroll by the Bela I wasn’t going out again. I had things to do. Important things. Household chores and work and stuff. But the low sun was painting the trees gold with dark eastern skies behind.

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So – another quick wander. I headed east first, towards Hagg Wood, but then turned down Bottom’s Lane and then back along Cove Road towards the coast.

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Female Blackbird.

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Hagg Wood.

I bumped into the Tower Captain, out walking his dogs, and he guessed, correctly, that I was sunset hunting.

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The night before I had been walking without my camera, thinking that the mass of cloud meant that the sunset wouldn’t be up to much. I was wrong, it was quite spectacular.

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But not up to the show that the skies put on this evening.

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The clouds which provided the drama were also bringing rain, although the rain never made it to me, and a faint rainbow apparently arcing down directly onto our house.

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Well worth another trip out.

The Late Show

Bowland Bronzed

Castlebarrow – The Cove – The Lots – Spring Bank

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A very short walk this one, memorable for two reasons, firstly the perfect timing which saw me arrive by the Pepperpot just as the low sun burnished the Bowland Fells with a glorious bronze light.

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It was very fleeting, lasting long enough for me to take a couple of snaps, then it was gone. The photographs don’t begin to do it justice – the colour was amazing, I can’t think that I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.

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The second notable feature of the evening was the sunset, witnessed through April showers of snow and hail.

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I wouldn’t generally consider hail as ‘A Good Thing’ but this was surprisingly gentle and serene and quite out of the ordinary, so that I found myself enjoying it, despite my misgivings.

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Yet another sunset over Morecambe Bay, but somehow they are always a bit different.

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More Spring Colour

Hagg Wood – Silverdale Green – Sharp’s Lot – Pointer Wood – Stankelt Road – The Lots – The Cove – The Shore

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A couple of nights after my last visit to Hagg Wood, I was out again, but this time with some better light to catch the new leaves on one of the Inman Oaks.

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And the palette of greens in Hagg Wood…

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Not all of the oaks had new leaves yet…

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The stronger light was short-lived…

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I watched this blackbird for a while. It repeatedly, diligently wiped either side of its beak against the branch it was perched on. I can’t think why.

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In Pointer Wood there’s a Wilding Apple I like to visit. It’s almost in flower…

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More Wych Elm.

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The ‘Primrose Garden’.

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I arrived on the coast a little too late for the sunset.

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As I walked across The Lots I watched a man walking his dog out on the Bay. It’s been looking unusually firm and sandy near the coast recently and I couldn’t resist having a walk on the ‘sand’. In this case appearances weren’t misleading and I enjoyed my stroll, doubling back along the coast to pretty much where I had just come from.

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Sometimes our actions can have unexpected, or indeed unintended consequences. One knock-on of my renewed determination to get out and about as often as I can is the fact that even though April is a month in which I often take a lot of photos, this year I have still far exceeded my standard haul. Also, I noticed with some surprise today, I’ve published a post every day this month so far. In fact, my streak has lasted a little longer than that. That too has consequences. For one thing, a few more people seem to be reading my blog (or at least visiting, and sometimes clicking ‘like’ or ‘follow’, which isn’t necessarily the same as reading). Also, I now feel under some pressure to keep it going; at least till the end of the month, although I’m not sure that I can manage it. We shall see…

More Spring Colour

Walking and Gawking

Eaves Wood – The Row – Bottom’s Lane – The Green – Stankelt Lane – The Lots – The Cove – Elmslack Lane

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Cherry Blossom.

The forecast was poor, but the rain was meant to stop eventually, late in the afternoon. It didn’t, but then just when it seemed set in for the entire day it suddenly both stopped raining and brightened up, leaving dramatic dark skies to the east, but sunshine overhead.

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Honesty.

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I headed up the Coronation Path (bought in 1953 by the village to give access to Eaves Wood) knowing that I would gain height with a view of those glowering clouds.

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The sun was low filtering through the trees and lighting the new Beech leaves…

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From Castlebarrow, looking over the village, I could see the hills of the Forest of Bowland were still shrouded in a layer of cloud.

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But that it was slightly brighter out over the bay…

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A Robin was serenading me from the top of a Yew tree level with the crag…

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Beech leaves in a rut, Andy Goldsworthy style?

Most of these photos were taken in the early part of the walk. After that the light was generally too poor. When I’d asked TBH to lend me her phone so that I could monitor my mileage, A had very kindly offered me hers instead, but insisted that I use a different App which she assured me was ‘better’ in some unspecified way.

This turned out to mean that the phone, rather disconcertingly, announced aloud, every kilometre, my average speed, split times, distance etc. It took me a bit by surprise the first time, to be spoken to in an American accent whilst I was ostensibly alone in the woods. It was no real surprise, on the other hand, to discover that my speed increases significantly when I stop taking photos.

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After my almost obligatory visit to The Lots and The Cove I walked past a friend’s house and discovered him having a quiet smoke on his front step. Twenty minutes later as we sat chewing the fat over a cup of tea in his kitchen, A’s phone piped up to deliver very disappointing news about my current speed and split time.

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Must try harder obviously!

Walking and Gawking

The Wells of Silverdale

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There’s something very satisfying about a hand drawn map, don’t you think? This one is from a leaflet; one from my collection of leaflets detailing local walks, which I have acquired over the years and keep filed away on a shelf. I dug it out because I wanted to compare it with this map…

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Which is from ‘Old Silverdale’ by Rod J. Ireland, which I bought last week, a little birthday present to myself, and which I’ve been poring over ever since. This map shows more wells than the first. At some point, I shall have to see if I can find any trace of the additional wells shown. But on this occasion I contented myself with following the route shown in the leaflet.

 

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Cheery Dandelions.

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Cheery Celandines.

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Elmslack Well.

Yes, I realise that it’s actually a bin. But I’m told that it’s on the site of the old well.

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Inman’s Road.

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Not wells, I know, but these tanks formerly collected and supplied water to Hill House, now the Woodlands pub, so they seem relevant. Mains water arrived in the area in 1938 (there’s still no mains sewers). Until then the wells would obviously have been important. Also many houses had tanks on the roof which collected rain water.

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This photo is the best I managed from a satisfyingly close encounter with ‘the British bird of paradise‘, or more prosaically, a Jay. The Jay moved from branch to branch, but unusually, stayed in sight and not too far away. Sadly, never long enough for me to get any half decent photos.

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This squirrel was more obliging.

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Wood Anemones.

The Toothwort beside Inman’s Road is much taller than it was, but already beginning to look a bit tatty and past its best.

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More Wood Anemones.

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Chaffinch.

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Dogslack Well.

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Comma butterfly.

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Bank Well.

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The light was stunning and making everything look gorgeous.

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Coot chick.

Well, almost everything. This is the kind of face that only a mother could love, surely?

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Lambert’s Meadow.

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I like to think that this is a Raven, sitting atop a very tall tree, regally surveying the meadow and the surrounding woodland. But none of the photos show the shaggy throat which is supposed to make it easy to distinguish between Ravens and Crows. So, I’m not sure.

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Burton Well

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The pond at Woodwell.

There are newts at Woodwell. We hardly ever see them. But today, not only did I see one, but I managed to train my camera on it…

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Blast!

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Golden Saxifrage.

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Woodwell.

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The Ramsons in Bottom’s Wood are looking particularly verdant, but no sign yet of any flowers. On the verge of Cove Road, near to the Cove, the flowers are already on display. The flowers always seem to appear there first.

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Cherry blossom.

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Jackdaw.

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Song Thrush.

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Nuthatch.

On the Lots there were Starlings and Pied Wagtails foraging on the ground.

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Crow – the second evening in a row when a crow has been perched on this branch.

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Pied Wagtail.

It was one of those magical days when lots of birds seemed content to sit still and be photographed. Lots, but not all. The Buzzards were flying above the small copse above the Cove. I watched them through the trees as, once again, they both flew in to perch on a tree at the far side of the wood. This time it was the same tree in which a Tawny Owl obligingly posed for a photo one evening some years ago. They were tantalisingly close, maybe I could get some good photos?

But when I switched on my camera, what did I notice, much closer to hand…

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…a pair of Nuthatches.

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Since I learned to recognise the slightly monotonous song of Nuthatches, I’ve come to realise how very common they are in this area. And I spot them much more often than I used to. As a boy, these were an exotic rarity to me, and fortunately their ubiquity has done nothing to reduce the thrill I still feel when I see them.

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One of the pair sat and pruned itself for quite some time and I took lots of photos before eventually turning my attention back to the tree where the Buzzards…

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…were no longer perched.

I scanned other trees for a while, and then, just as I reluctantly gave up on the idea of seeing the Buzzards again, there they were, not in a tree, but in the adjacent field, one on the ground and the other sat on a dry-stone wall, and showing to much better advantage than before. But before I took any photos, they were off again.

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Starling.

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Bullfinch.

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Morecambe Bay.

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Blackbird – in almost the same spot as the night before.

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Five for silver.

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It was getting a bit dark for bird photos at this point, but this Goldfinch was behaving in a way which I’ve noticed a couple of times recently; it was singing, swivelling sharply through ninety degrees singing again, then back and so on. The precision of it seemed quite aggressive, but at the same time, pretty comical.

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The leaflet says that this walk is ‘about four miles’, but although I’d skipped the out and back to Bard’s Well on the shore, The Move App was telling me that I’d walked five miles. And despite the Jay, the Newt and the Buzzards all evading my camera, this had been a very satisfying five miles.

The Wells of Silverdale

Little and Often – Lao Tzu

Hagg Wood – The Green – Stankelt Road – The Lots – The Cove – Townsfield

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I frequently walk past this border of Hagg Wood and it’s been interesting to watch the Blackthorn flowers transform from constellations of tight white balls into fully fledged blossom.

Ecotones are always busy with life and this one, between the woods and the open field, is no exception, being always thronged with birds. Usually I hear them more than see them, but this warbler…

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…was both silent, but also unusually easy to track with my camera.

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Warbler’s are easiest to distinguish by their songs, so I’m not sure whether this is a Chiff-Chaff or something else. And, to be honest, if it isn’t a Chiff-Chaff, then the song wouldn’t have helped me much either.

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The mystery tree is still playing its cards close to its chest, with no leaves unfurling yet, which probably means that it isn’t a Sycamore.

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Hebridean Sheep. I think.

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Chaffinch.

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I stepped into Pointer Wood, saw how deep the shadows were there and decided not to go that way. But I lingered long enough to take lots of backlit photos…

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Gooseberry flowers.

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Hazel leaves?

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Sycamore leaves.

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Ivy.

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The Lots.

The couple ahead of me in the photo are friends from the village whom I often meet when I’m walking locally, particularly of an evening. It amuses them that at the moment I wear shorts, but also a hat and gloves. Seems perfectly sensible to me.

As I approached the small copse which stands either side of the path above the cliff by The Cove, I watched a pair of Buzzards circling above it.

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There were several Starlings foraging in the second, northern-most of The Lots fields. A few years ago I spotted a Starling nest in the woods here and watched for some time as the two parent birds flew back and forth whilst their hungry brood noisily pleaded for more.

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Crow.

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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, this oft-quoted proverb is apparently from the 64th chapter of the Tao Te Ching which is attributed to Lao Tzu. A more accurate translation, I’ve read, would be: “A journey of a thousand li starts beneath ones feet.”

But, returning to Mr Sloman and his daily target of 3 miles; that average mileage per day would yield over 1000 miles in a year. Which would no doubt feel like something of an achievement. I notice that Country Walking magazine have a 1000 mile challenge. And some bloggers are already well underway with said challenge.

So: could I manage it? Well, this modest walk is two and a half miles. I know this since TBH has loaded an App called Move onto her phone and I’ve been borrowing the phone. The app provides a step-count, a distance, time and average speed for your walk. I must confess that I love both the data and the maps and am almost tempted to get my own smart phone so that I can use it more regularly. Almost. Even with all of the gawking I did, I still managed this in just over an hour, so yes, I could probably manage this most days and then make up any shortfall at the weekends. Of course, a good time to come to this particular realisation would have been just before New Year, rather than part way through April. Still, it’s something to think of for next year. In the meantime I’ll keep practising.

This gate…

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…gives me some measure of my progress to date. In recent years it has been a bit of a squeeze for me to get through it, but now I can pass through with ease. A fact which never fails to make me smile. Sometimes I go back and forth through it a couple of times, just because I can.

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The pair of Buzzards swooped low over the wood then gracefully arced over and back to come to land on branches high at the back of the wood. I could half see them, but not well enough to get a photo.

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Behind me, a Blackbird was regaling the sinking sun with gusto.

And why not?

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Blackthorn Blossom in late evening light.

 

Little and Often – Lao Tzu